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A Politics of Difference in the New Testament: Identity and the Others in Paul1

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Chapter Summary

In the Pauline epistles, the insider-outsider contrast accomplished more than to simply distinguish people in terms of opposing groups. A variety of identity-formation processes in early Christianity depended on the notion of the other, in particular as the early Christian sect defined its boundaries with reference to Judaism. The New Testament (NT) is implicated in the politics of identity, which is hardly surprising given the history of its volatile origins where different religious, ideological and political formations and narratives vied for power and honour. This chapter considers the problem of outsiders within the broader setting of Paul's politics of difference, or politics of othering. The focus is on the strong oppositional categories invoked to describe people in the NT, and how these contributed to animosity and violent statements. Animosity and even conflict is generated by the insider-outsider mentality.

Keywords: Christianity; Judaism; New Testament (NT); Paul's politics



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